Happy Friday everybody! We hope you’re thirsty for today’s freebie, Houston Beer: A Heady History of Brewing in the Bayou City, by Ronnie Crocker.
How do you get a free copy? Before 12 AM EST on Sunday, April 8th, comment on this post and tell us why you’d love to win this book and/or why you love craft beer! And don’t forget to check out the free excerpt below.
From the early days, and long before Americans had ever heard the term “craft beer,” settlers in the Bayou City excelled in the art of ales, stouts and lagers. In 1913, it was a Houston brewery that claimed the distinction of “the world’s finest bottled beer” after winning an international competition in Belgium.
However, the unfortunate rise of Prohibition put this dynamic industry on hold. According to Crocker, fights between boozers and Prohibitionists escalated to a personal level:
For all its celebrated rowdiness, Houston was not immune to the prohibitionist groundswell of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In late 1905, the ax-wielding Carry Nation herself visited Houston to express her displeasure—to the tune of $750 in damage—with a local drinking establishment that had been named for her. Houston wasn’t unique in this regard, either; as Nation took her rampaging crusade to saloons across the country, besieged barkeeps were known to post signs that read, “All Nations Welcome, Except Carry.”
Despite Houston’s booze battles throughout history, an inextinguishable enthusiasm for its frosty pints has ultimately prevailed. From ordaining a “patron saint of booze” to naming a dark Belgian-style beer for the dark cardinal in The Three Musketeers (Richelieu), the golden age of Texas brewing has energized a quirky but flavorful resurgence.
In 2008, Saint Arnold Brewing Company was the only craft brewery in Houston. Just a few years later, there are five and counting within an hour’s drive of downtown. Journalist and “Beer, TX” blogger Ronnie Crocker chronicles Houston’s long and surprising history of brewing, tracing everything from the grand legacy of Anheuser-Busch to the up-and-coming craft beer makers and those brewing it right at home.
Ronnie Crocker started newspapering while a student at Texas A&M and has never been tempted to do anything else. He is an editor and writer for the Houston Chronicle, where he launched the Beer, TX blog in March 2009 (in addition to Beer, TX follow Crocker’s beer writing on Twitter and Facebook). Crocker was born in Galveston, grew up in the Houston area and worked as a journalist at the Bryan–College Station Eagle in Texas and the Daily Press in Newport News, Virginia, before returning home to join the Chronicle in 1994. He holds a master’s in business administration from the College of William and Mary. People seem jealous when he tells them he gets to write about beer. They should be.